Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Good fences make good neighbors

Money is tight. Gas prices are up, and everything is more expensive except for the price of an employee. A neatly trimmed yard. A not too old car...just one...I guess we look prosperous enough, even in this neighborhood.

So, the property behind us is a revolving door rental. A lady I'd never seen before caught my eye while I was standing at my sink, in my kitchen. She was on the sidewalk, and briefly I missed the bushes that used to be tall enough to cover those windows. I like privacy. Don't like uncomfortable interactions with human beings.

As I went out, she was coming into my yard. I did not like that, either. I like privacy. Then she asked to borrow money. Payday next Monday, could she borrow some? Of course she'd pay us right back. Yeah, whatever.

Not for alms, although maybe it was a request couched in those terms, I don't know. But I had to turn her down. No extra moneylying around at our house, even with the neatly trimmed yard, the not-too-old car and the professional husband. Lending money: BAD IDEA. Borrowing money: BAD IDEA. "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." We've started living by that this past year.

She told me she'd given chicken to my cat. Like this would soften me up, make me want to give her something? I asked her not to do that anymore. How many ways is this lady going to violate our boundaries? I wonder to myself. I said the cat could get the runs. She understood. Mostly I don't like it when my neighbors feed my animals, just like I would not want them feeding my kids.

If only she'd asked me for food. I could have given her food. But maybe she was not hungry. Maybe food is too personal. I don't know. I just don't know.

Usually when I have an alms giving opportunity, it feels like a "divine appointment", like I"m doing the right thing. This was not that. This felt different. Do I trust my instincts?


Meg said...

"Do I trust my instincts?" YES. ALWAYS.

Lightfinder said...

Just a thougt... of course I don't know this lady's whole situation, but... If she has enough chicken to share with someone elses well-fed cat, then...why does she need to borrow money?

james said...

I agree in so far as the answer goes.

Lightfinder ... wow, let me find a ladder so I can climb up there and join you. Is that real ivory?

I want to stress that I probably wouldn't have loaned her the money in that I'm very tight these days, but I don't think the woman did anything wrong (except for feeding your animals).

On one hand we are called to lend even when we know we'll never be repaid, but on the other hand if you don't have the money, then you don't have the money. I know I wouldn't have it to loan. Yes, suggesting other alternatives (food, etc.) might be a good alternative.

Remember that people always accused of Jesus of not having proper boundaries. Just my two cents.

Jasmine said...

Wow, the term "boundaries" comes from the BIBLE?!?

james said...

I don't know the term is in the Bible, but people got all bent out of shape for 1) eating and talking and spending time with prostitutes and tax collectors, and 2) for touch lepers. Those were things for which people were kicked out of the synagogue -- society as a whole for that matter -- which is a infraction of boundaries.

DollyMama said...

My main concern would be that if she found out you had cash around that it could turn into a problem. Letting someone know that you have no cash is perhaps a good thing in a setting like this.